I've never skiied on boots that fit properly. Even though I enjoy skiing, the foot pain is always so bad that I never ski more than 3 or 4 days a year and typically only a few hours (or less) each day. Needless to say it's very frustrating and not enough time on the slopes to really improve my skiing from year to year. My wife is an avid skier who gets in about 40 days a year & she'd like to double that if I would just ski more with her. So another reason that I'd like to find some wearable boots.
I know that bootfitting can't be done over the internet. But I've had a few bad experiences and would appreciate some advice on finding a decent bootfitter. I'll sketch a quick history & I'd be grateful if anyone can steer me in the right direction. I'm a low-intermediate skier, 5' 9", 190#, 40yr old male, wide forefeet & big calves low on my legs. My feet measure 262mm & 264mm long standing up & 105mm wide in the forefoot (all weighted measurements). My forefoot width is apparently very far forward (short toes), with the widest point being across the ball of the foot. I'm told that this is a US 9EE mens size, although street shoes usually run US size 10 because most shoes aren't wide enough. I'm not sure if my heel is narrow or thick, measuring it myself it's 60 - 65mm wide depending on where I take the measurement. My podiatrist tells me that my feet are functionally neutral and that I don't over or under protonate & don't have much trouble finding a good fit in running shoes. No underlying medical reasons that would contribute to foot pain. I've been using off the shelf footbeds in my boots & I don't think that they are an issue. In a similar thread, the OP was asked how much ankle flex he had. If it's relevant, I can lift the lateral balls of my feet about 25mm off the floor when seated.
I've been skiing on & off since I was a teenager & always had painful ski boots. Most of the pain seems to be in the soles of my feet. They burn & ache & feel like they are on fire after only a run or two. Mostly along the lateral edges & I always have some calf pain presumably because the cuff of most boots rides up into the thick part of my calves. My feet even ache just hanging on my feet for ten minutes on a chairlift. And after a few runs, they hurt so bad that I'm not steering my feet properly into turns anymore & I'm beginning to wonder why I ski at all. Loosening the lower buckles delays the onset of pain but it also lets my feet swim in my boots. I've given up on rental boots, I've never found anything that even comes close to pain free. I must have spent at least $2K on boots from big box retailers over the years which did little to get me into a snug enough boot; just someone waiting for a nod from me that I like the fit. I started off thinking that a ski boot should fit like a runner, eventually figured out that snug was better. The best of the big box boots was some inexpensive Head Easyon7's (in 29MP!) simply because it was the widest boot (best forefoot fit) that I had found to date. Still a lot of pain & I think that the flex was too soft too. Spent a lot of money on unnecessary ski upgrades too on the misguided advice that this might be my problem. Finally stumbled into a smaller shop where they knew more about bootfitting and I learned that liners could be pulled out of shells & had my first shell fitting. They got me into 27MP Lange FR120 boots that were unbearable stock and punched them out again and again. The pain got better but was still considerable. They keep punching the shell wider for my forefoot until they couldn't go any further, but it didn't really fix the pain in my soles and it seemed to me that my foot was now loose in the shell. Spent a lot of time & money without any ultimate resolution. My best guess is that I was seeing referred pain from my calves that had little to do with my wide forefeet. Gave up on skiing altogether for a while after that & gave the Langes away.
A few years ago, I bought some 27.5MP Head Edge 10.5 boots. Despite being a narrower last than the Easyon7's, it seemed to be wider up front. Punched out for more width, the best boots I have had to date, but still lots of pain & I've been skiing less & less. My current skis are 170cm Stockli's. I have to think that must be a better boot fitting experience out there, so I've been asking around for recommendations from friends, co-workers, ski-instructors, strangers. A few store names in my area come up again & again. So I poked my head into a Whistler shop & after what seemed like a cursory measurement and look at my foot & less than five minutes of actually having the boot on my foot, they were suggesting that they could write up an invoice. They seemed to know a lot about boots, but I wasn't really impressed with how rushed the process was and left. Just recently I went to a Vancouver store that has a good reputation and was recommended by many. The best experience so far, but I still have mixed feelings. Maybe I'm just skeptical because of my history, but they measured my foot as 26.5MP, but want to put me into a 28MP Salomon Impact that also has a high cuff that really bites into my calf. They do seem knowledgable and it sounds like they can cut the cuff down, "upright" the boot, punch the shell out & a lot of other things to make it work. But again they seem to settled on a boot after only trying a few pairs on & I couldn't wear the recommended boot for fifteen minutes in the shop before I had to take it off because my foot was going numb & starting to cramp in my calf. It just seems like a poor starting point, chosen with a minimal amount of measurement & fitting. I asked about boots in the shop that had lower cuffs but was told that they wouldn't fit my feet properly. I guess he knows, but I thought that I should have tried more boots on. I also asked about several boots that I had read about being favourable for wide feet e.g. Atomic B-series or Tecnica Vento HVL or Diablo Magma. Those were dismissed because they didn't carry those models.
I'm at the point that I either need to trust that they can make the suggested boot work for me & committ to another thousand dollars on faith (for boots, footbeds & mods). Or keep looking. I'm not sure if I'm being overly skeptical because of past experiences elsewhere. It's not a problem to come in a number of times after the initial mods as required. But if it doesn't work out in the end I think I'd call it quits with skiing altogether. I would have quit several thousand dollars ago if my wife wasn't a skier. Any advice? Should I trust a bootfitter that seems to have a good reputation despite misgivings about the specific boot they are suggesting? Insist on looking at different boots? Seek out the Atomic & Tecnica models that I've read about first? Look for a different bootfitter?
Edited by whistlerbnd - 3/3/2009 at 11:36 pm